HomeResourcesCase studiesJ&M Contracting recovers $50,000 backhoe quickly

Case study

J&M Contracting recovers $50,000 backhoe quickly

On a Saturday morning, I got an alert that the backhoe was being utilized.... I got in my truck and drove up there. While I was driving, I was talking with the Anderson County Sheriff Department. So I got there. I went right to the backhoe. It was eight tenths of a mile from the job site.
Garland Spivey
Safety and Fleet Manager

Based in Huntsville, Texas, J&M Contracting works on construction projects across the state, servicing sites hundreds of miles away. The company puts crews and equipment in the field for several consecutive days for highway projects, upgrades and repairs. The crews work with company-issued trucks and heavy equipment, which are often left unmanned and unguarded during off hours.

In January 2019, when a backhoe valued at approximately $50,000 went missing in Conroy, Texas, Safety and Fleet Manager Garland Spivey realized J&M Contracting needed a way to track the location and use of its equipment in the field. Spivey reviewed a few other options before selecting Verizon Connect Reveal.

The challenge of monitoring unguarded or missing equipment

The challenge that J&M Contracting faced was that they needed a way to monitor the whereabouts of its heavy equipment in the field, which was often left unmanned and unguarded during off hours. When an asset was missing or stolen, their only recourse was to contact law enforcement and attempt to recover it with limited information. Spivey noted that when he started working for J&M in 2014, the company didn't have a fleet management solution in place.

"You know, we really didn't [have a solution]. I just came in with my sleeves rolled up, and we worked on things where we could," he said. "What really happened throughout the years without a GPS system—all of this would have gone on without the help of GPS. Before [Verizon] came aboard, we had some stolen that we never recovered."

For small businesses especially, stolen heavy equipment can put a company into debt or even out of business—it's certainly not a victimless crime.

Dealing with law enforcement and complex insurance claims convinced Spivey the company needed an asset monitoring solution to deter and prevent theft and loss. He needed an easy-to-use system for tracking 26 trucks and nearly 40 pieces of heavy equipment in the field, such as backhoes, front loaders and utility trailers.

The solution for peace of mind and asset protection

Now, with Verizon Connect Reveal, J&M benefits from GPS tracking, fleet management and accurate data reporting. What makes Verizon Connect Reveal unique is its use of precise mapping by Google Maps API and minute-by-minute location of all vehicles, helping fleet managers know exact locations of their assets around the clock. The system also comes with a number of other features like notifications about driving habits or idle time.

"I was convinced this was the way to go, so we started with tracking for the backhoes and trucks," Spivey recalls. "The backhoes are the main items that are stolen."

Currently, the J&M Contracting fleet is managed via 21 vehicle tracking units with Verizon Connect Reveal and 30 asset trackers, which are a mix of powered and non-powered asset trackers and equipment asset tracker-battery devices. Recently he's added utility trailers to the Verizon asset management system, and the numbers grow as the fleet expands.

One of the features Spivey loves is the ability to set geofencing and operational times. If a vehicle's ignition is turned on or it's moved, the system sends an alert. The work hours are 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and no operations are set for weekends. If a crew is working on the weekend, the supervisor can schedule the system so it doesn't send an alert. When triggered, the system sends a screenshot of the asset's location coordinates. Spivey can send the information to local law enforcement to have them locate the asset.

If Spivey receives an alert after hours, he immediately calls the job foreman to see if anyone is legitimately working at the site, perhaps moving supplies to prepare for the next day. The answer is always, "No, nobody is working this late." Then, when Spivey contacts local law enforcement to see if they can recover the missing equipment, he is able to provide precise coordinates for the asset's location, and the supervisor or Spivey then drives to the site as soon as possible.

During one particular case on February 1st, 2021, someone stole a backhoe from a construction site and thought they made a clean escape. However, Spivey was able to track what had happened with Connect Reveal. "Someone drove the backhoe 17.23 miles down the street, over a lonely service road, and they must have seen law enforcement there because then they drove into the woods," said Spivey. He noted that some thieves like to use a tactic where they leave a vehicle in a remote location to test if it has GPS tracking by waiting to see if anyone comes for it. Using Verizon Connect Reveal can help J&M recover assets in situations like these despite clever theft tactics.

Streamlining the insurance process and reducing premiums

By recovering a stolen and undamaged asset in the field, J&M Contracting avoids the cost of replacing the asset and saves on the time and effort involved in the criminal prosecution and insurance claims process.

The documentation is critical in recovering vehicles that have been stolen or used without authorization. Telematics devices help promote worker safety and grant J&M the ability to recover stolen assets, which results in a lower equipment insurance premium.

"Our insurance agent is so happy that we have this telematics system because we haven't had to report a theft since we got into the Verizon program," Spivey said.

Recovering assets quickly ensures J&M has the equipment it needs to stay on the job.

"We get the backhoe back and don't have to transfer another one to the job, and we don't have to take the time to file an insurance claim, so it's a win-win situation for us," Spivey said.

The advantages of a new fleet management platform for J&M

With a deep level of digital detail from Verizon Connect Reveal, Spivey has a record of every alert he has received. In Spivey's files are records of six thefts, three theft and unauthorized use events and two cases of unauthorized use since February 2019.

In addition to asset protection, J&M can also monitor when any of their trucks in the field are speeding or braking suddenly. Drivers are asked to improve their driving habits, and drivers with good practices are acknowledged each month with a prize or gift from the company.

When Spivey receives multiple alerts about a driver speeding, he follows up quickly.

"If it happens a few times a day, we'll call the driver and say, 'if you want to keep driving our truck, you have to slow down,'" Spivey said. "That's a really good deterrent from speeding and bad driving."

The system is also used to recognize and reward good drivers. The truck fleet covers about 600,000 miles per month, and at a recent staff meeting, Spivey gave a gift to the driver with the most miles without an accident during the month. He also recognized drivers who didn't have an instance of speeding or harsh braking.

"Verizon Connect Reveal calculates the performance over the last 30 days for us," Spivey said. "It's a very sophisticated system, and I'm thrilled to have it."

Having experienced the many and varied problems caused by the theft of its heavy equipment in the field, J&M Contracting enjoys a wide range of benefits provided by Verizon Connect Reveal.

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Tags: Customer retention rates, Customer Service, Dispatching & Scheduling, Performance & Coaching, Productivity & Efficiency, Routing, Safety, Team Management, Vehicle & asset security, Vehicle Maintenance